Fairmile D file photo [5450]

Fairmile D-class Motor Torpedo Boat

CountryUnited Kingdom
Displacement90 tons standard
Length115 feet
Beam21 feet
Draft5 feet
MachineryFour Packard 4M 2500 petrol engines
Power Output5000 SHP
Speed27 knots
Range2,000 miles at 11 knots
Crew14
Armament1x 2-pounder gun, 2x20mm Oerlikon cannon, 2x0.5in machine guns, 4x Vickers Go guns plus one Holman projector as gunboat or 2x21in torpedoes as torpedo boat

Contributor:

This article refers to the entire Fairmile D-class; it is not about an individual vessel.

ww2dbaseWhilst the 49-ton Vosper Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB) were quite adequate against unarmed or lightly armed enemy merchant shipping the Admiralty soon felt that something bigger and more heavily armed would be needed to take on a stronger opponent such as the powerful German S-boats. Fortunately, in 1939 the Admiralty had already considered such a vessel, to employ a revolutionary hull consisting of a flat after section to facilitate high speed planing but with a rounded form forward to allow for pitching without severe slamming. The pitching itself being further reduced by a significant increase in length to 110 feet (33.53 m) which resulted in a sharply inclining chine.

ww2dbaseFairmile, a new company, were given the task of preparing the design. From this, actual construction was entrusted largely to many minor shipyards which hitherto had only built pleasure craft. This was done by supplying prefabricated kits from Fairmile. In all some 250 such kits being eventually supplied.

ww2dbaseThe Fairmile D boats were powered by four 4,800 hp Packard engine, without the wartime luxury of a gearbox, driving the shallow-draft vessel through four shafts with small diameter propellers. The boats were generally fitted out either as 90-ton Motor Gun Boats (MGB) or combined (105-ton) Motor Torpedo and Gun Boats (MTB/MGB). Some later builds would eventually grow to a displacement of 120 tons.

ww2dbaseThe first units were commissioned in 1942 and proved to be highly weather-able, operating equally well in cold Norwegian coastal waters or the warmer temperatures along the North African coastline. With Royal Navy Regular Officers and Seamen needed to man the Navy's larger vessels, crews for these boats would come from RNVR reservists. Many of their keen young officers were extremely proud to have been entrusted with a Command of their own (no matter how small)and were soon creating some of the bravest and efficient crews imaginable.

ww2dbasePerhaps one of the most famous incidents in which a Motor Gun Boat was involved, was that of MGB-314 (actually a Fairmile C type boat), Commanded by Lt. Dunstan Curtis, during the famous Commando raid on the Normandie Dock at St. Nazaire during the night of March 28, 1942. MGB-314 was earmarked as the Command boat for the operation and carried aboard both Colonel Charles Newman and Commander Robert Ryder (the respective Land and naval force commanders). During this action Able Seaman William Savage, who was manning the forward two-pounder pom-pom would, despite being mortally wounded steadfastly man his gun until ultimately succumbing to his wounds. A dedication that would earn him a posthumous Victoria Cross.

ww2dbaseSources:
Warships of World War II (Collins/Janes, 1996)
Janes Fighting ships of World War II (Studio, 1989)
Hand Of Steel (Rupert Butler, Hamlyn, 1980)
The War at Sea (John Winton, Book club Associates/Hutchinson Publishing, 1974)




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Visitor Submitted Comments

1. Graham Wright says:
31 Jan 2010 09:40:44 AM

My parents owned an ex navy MTB on the Medway after the war. I am trying to identify the type. I have a photo which shows the rear section and part of the number 28 (I understand that it was 028). The onlyddetail I have from the photo is that it was chine built and had 4 propshafts, so possibly a D. Can you help me with some information as to a source or site I can use to identify the type from the number
2. B.S.Bhandarkar says:
25 May 2010 09:47:19 AM

The Fairmile D and the PT109 classes were the matchwinners of WWII
3. Harald Vellesvik says:
19 Jul 2010 12:54:20 PM

This is good information, I bought a Norwegian magasin about old wessel,and find in it pictures of a Fairmile D blown up in 1945,the ship exploded when the crew was ashore.Since have the boat lied in a bay in the Ålesund district.It is not much left og it,but there are som pictures of the hull.
4. Nathaniel says:
23 Feb 2012 03:13:20 PM

armament varied but all had 4 Vickers .50s, and some carried 4 18" tubes rather than 2 21" tubes. The Holman projector was fitted to many of the early boats as well as torpedo tubes, not instead of. Many Dog boats were classed as MGB/MTBs, rather than one or the other, so distinctions can be hard to make. Almost all operated as gunboats with the added benefit of torpedoes, rather than as torpedo boats.
5. david says:
23 Oct 2014 04:13:17 PM

I bought dog boat 033 built brightlingsea in 1947 but not commissioned.told it was built for air sea rescue but this is unlikely.moored at The Frinton and Walton yaucht club but I had it towed to brightlingsea as houseboat.beautiful craft.Sold it for #500 to couple from London in 69.4 tubes.
6. Don Donovan says:
6 Jun 2017 11:57:34 PM

In 1966 I worked, as crew, on a boat called Cren or Crem Blau, berthed in Cannes, S. France. The captain told this boat was an, ex-navel Fairmile. I have done some research and I think it was originally named "The Gay Viking". Any info appriciated.
7. Anonymous says:
19 Nov 2018 03:08:06 AM

D-Class Long Range Air-Sea Rescue Launch. As a child in the later 1940sI lived on one on a mud berth in Rochester. It certainly was an air-sea rescue launch. I remember climbing down and up the side on the scramble nets. I don't know the number (I would like to) but I am pretty sure it had been operated by the RAF. Simon Taylor

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